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Occupational Therapy Internships in Cambodia

Project Overview
  • Placement location: Phnom Penh
  • Role: To provide care to babies, children, and adults who suffer from a wide range of physical disabilities
  • Types of placement: Care centers
  • Requirements: Interns must have completed one year of Occupational Therapy studies or training
  • Accommodation: Shared volunteer apartments
  • Length of placement: From 2 weeks
  • Start dates: Flexible

There is a severe shortage of skilled occupational therapists in Cambodia. If you are currently an occupational therapy student or have recently qualified, you could help provide much-needed treatment to babies, children, and adults with a wide range of physical problems as a Projects Abroad Occupational Therapy intern in Cambodia.

Occupational Therapy is not a recognized profession in Cambodia, so interns work closely alongside Physical Therapy interns to provide help and support to the patients. As an Occupational Therapy intern you therefore need to be pro-active and make sure the local staff are informed of the work you are capable of doing. You will work independently and having specialized skills or an interest in working with disabled people would serve as an advantage.

You must have completed at least one year of related studies or training by the time you join the project.

Occupational Therapy Placements in Cambodia with Projects Abroad

Intern on the Occupational Therapy project in Cambodia does activities with children

If you have completed at least a year of occupational therapy related studies (but less than three years), you will have the opportunity to work at a center that cares for babies and children who have a variety of physical or mental disabilities. The center is home to orphans, abandoned babies, and children from the city and other provinces, and the children here are vulnerable and require constant care. It is important that you have a positive attitude and a willingness to help disabled children.

The physical therapy department at the center has a basic schedule for the children, allowing them to have quality time in the physical therapy room as often as possible. Each child has different needs: some are learning to walk while others suffer from muscular problems. Other children need to have their joints massaged regularly to maintain their physical health. Extra help from interns with these tasks will allow more children to use the room and get treatment on a regular basis. The physical therapy room is relatively well equipped by Cambodian standards, with a variety of equipment including cushions, balls, mats, and specialized chairs.

Occupational Therapy Placements for Interns with More Experience

Projects Abroad intern on the Occupational Therapy project works with a Cambodian child at the National Borei for Infants and Children in Asia

If you have studied occupational therapy for at least three years, you also have the option to work at a center for child and adult patients living with disabilities and those affected by HIV. Unfortunately, most of the patients have never been officially diagnosed and some have not received any treatment whatsoever. While the local staff work are extremely dedicated, the center would greatly appreciate your help in this department. At this placement, you will be expected to work independently. Having specialized skills or interest in working with disabled people would serve as an advantage at this placement. Recently qualified occupational therapists would also be welcome.

Those with three or more years of work experience and who can commit to at least eight weeks on the project have the option of working at a center which cares for veterans and those affected by the Vietnam War. These centers are two of three physical rehabilitation centers that Veterans International operates in Cambodia. Veterans International has been working with landmine victims and people with disabilities since 1991.

At this placement, you will work alongside one of the local physical therapists and assist children and adults with a variety of conditions including people who have suffered from Meningitis, people with cerebral palsy, and children with club feet. Depending on your level of knowledge and experience you may be given your own patients to work with.

You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Cambodia Medicine & Healthcare Management Plan.

While interning as an Occupational Therapist in Cambodia you will live in one of the Projects Abroad apartments with other volunteers. You can spend your free time exploring Phnom Penh and the surrounding region with other Projects Abroad volunteers.

Volunteer ProfileVolunteer Rita Harrison shares her story from the Occupational Therapy project in Cambodia
Rita Harrison
As an Occupational Therapist in a completely foreign environment, I would find myself thinking about what the word ‘occupation’ meant for the children at the center. I questioned what my role meant in such an environment and quite often would come to the same conclusion - to advocate and support the children in doing whatever they wanted or needed to do. Read more...

Occupational Therapy internships in Cambodia are available for shorter periods than 4 weeks. While you will be able to gain valuable medical experience on a short-term trip, we recommend staying for a longer period to allow yourself more time to get to know the local medical system, see more of a variety of conditions and procedures, and develop stronger relationships with local medical staff.

If you have qualifications or experience in this field then we can make use of your skills volunteering abroad as a professional in Cambodia.

Interns seeking a different cultural experience have the option of participating on a more unique project for one week at the end of their project. For more information, please visit the Khmer Project in Cambodia page. Our Combinations Page explains how you can combine not only projects, but also destinations.

Cambodia Medicine & Healthcare Management Plan

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